Migrants from Mexico and Central America must cross private ranches in Brooks County, Texas in order to circumvent a Border Patrol checkpoint on US-281 North. These migrants from Guatemala do not try to evade Border Patrol after being lost for three days in the brush. Photo credit: Kirsten Luce/Newsweek.


Cell membrane proteins give up their secrets

Rice University scientists have succeeded in analyzing transmembrane protein folding in the same way they study the proteins’ free-floating, globular cousins.

Rice theoretical biologist Peter Wolynes and his team at the university’s Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (CTBP) have applied his energy landscape theory to proteins that are hard to view because they live and work primarily inside cell membranes.

The method should increase the technique’s value to researchers who study proteins implicated in diseases and possibly in the creation of drugs to treat them, he said.

The study appeared this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Caption: Rice University researchers are using a custom computer-modeling program to predict how transmembrane proteins will fold from basic genomic data. Here, the experimentally determined native structure of the bacteriorhodopsin subdomain (left), a predicted structure using AWSEM membrane (center), and a comparative alignment of both structures (right: native in beige, predicted in blue) shows how well the predictive algorithm succeeded.

Credit: Bobby Kim/Rice University

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DNA Replication: The Enzyme Party

Now let’s take a look at the movers and the shakers of DNA replication, the enzymes.

Enzymes and their functions:


  • These untwist the double helix at the replication fork, breaking the hydrogen bonds between the nitrogenous bases (A, T, C, G) in…

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A colorful, active warbler of northern forests, the Canada Warbler spends little time on its breeding grounds. It is one of the last warblers to arrive north in the spring, and one of the first to leave in the fall, heading early to its South American wintering grounds.

  • Fun fact: Not much is known about the mating system of the Canada Warbler, but it appears to be monogamous. The observation of male-female pairs in Panama during fall and spring migration suggests that the pair may stay together year round.



Cool, moist woodlands that are nearly mature and have much undergrowth.


Breeds from southern Canada to northern United States east of Rockies, and in mountains to northern Georgia. Winters in tropics.


This warbler received its name from its discovery in Canada, although it is certainly not confined to Canada, even in the breeding season. It ordinarily ranges at low levels, usually from the ground to 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) up. Like several other warblers, it is adept at fly-catching, conspicuously flitting from bush to bush. Flying insects form a great portion of its diet, but it also captures spiders and insect larvae.


4 brown-spotted white eggs in a nest of dried leaves and grass, on or near the ground at the base of a stump or in a fern clump.


Home Sweet Home

Usually plastic and the environment do not go hand in hand, but artist Aki Inomata uses plastic to create an environment for her little pet hermit crabs in “Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?” (2009, 2010-2013).

With the help of CT scanning to render a three-dimensional model of an empty shell, Inomata creates her base and then builds houses atop these shell renderings. These architectural wonders mimic the style of popular dwellings, from Tokyo house-style to Paris apartments. 

With these plastic hermit crab habitats, Inomata wanted to explore not only the hermit crab’s adaptability to new surroundings, but how we adapt as well. Immigration, relocation, even acquiring a new identity or nationality is more or less the human version of growing out of a shell, and finding a new one to call ‘home’.

Not only is this series an amazing symbolic representation of our will to adapt, but also a fun way to learn more about the life and physiology of the hermit crab, as the dwellings are completely see-through. Have you ever wondered what a hermit crab’s body looks like inside its shell?

A video of both the hermit crabs in action and how the artist came about designing the shells can be found here.

-Anna Paluch

Fixed. theme by Andrew McCarthy